Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Mystery that Almost Was

Finished Mortal Causes last weekend. I had to wait a long time to get it. Previously, when I've requested Ian Rankin books from the VPL, I've always been the only person requesting the book and been able to pick it up within days. Not this time. I was sixth on the wait list. INCONCEIVABLE! Somehow, since the beginning of the year, when I began my mission to read the Inspector Rebus books in sequence, the series has become more popular--at least in Vancouver. I'm inclined to shoulder the responsibility for that, since I talk about it on my blog here, and we all know that my blog is perhaps the most influential music/comics/Rebus blog on the ENTIRE INTERNET.

As much as I'm reading Rankin for enjoyment, I'm also reading the series with a bit of a studious bent, paying attention to Rankin's progress as a novelist--a process greatly aided by the sweet introductions by the author in the editions the library lends me. It seems like each introduction features some variety of "This was the novel where things really clicked." Which is inspiring.

Anyway, I finished Mortal Causes, and was all jazzed to read the next one, Let It Bleed. But the VPL doesn't have it. Oh sure, they have the "sound recording", which I guess is the AudioBook. And they have Rebus: The Lost Years, which is an omnibus edition with three novels in it, the first of which is Let It Bleed--so that would've worked, especially since I've got a bunch of lakeside reading time coming up real soon. But it's checked out and not due back until Aug. 12, so fat lotta good that does me.

I live about two blocks away from a pretty good book store that has a whole entire shelf full of Rebus novels that go for about $8 a pop. So I figured I might as well just go grab Let It Bleed from them, and quit being such a mooch. Not in the cards. They have copies, multiples, of 16 different Rebus novels, but no Let It Bleed. I was starting to take it personally.

If you know me, you know that I love to take things personally. Nothing warms my heart like a good vendetta. From Edmond Dantes to Barney Panofsky, my heroes have always tended toward the vindictive and thin-skinned. But even more than I love being offended, I love to solve mysteries. And the seeming disappearance of Let It Bleed was looking to be a stone cold whodunnit.

The bookstore near my house happens to sell those nice Moleskin notebooks for, like, $11, so I got the flip-top reporter's notebook and got ready to investigate why the universe was conspiring against my desired reading. By which I mean, I grabbed a coffee and did the crossword. Nothing gets the wheels turning like trying to think of a ten-letter word for "Pinata material".

Sunday, then, Scott and I went to the beach. We walked around Kitsilano for hours, pounding the beat. Eventually, we ended up on West Broadway. It's interesting to look at how different neighbourhoods shake out. West Broadway, for example, is a lot like Commercial Drive in some ways. Lots of people on the sidewalk, lots of food stores, restaurants and cafes. But unlike the Drive, W. Broadway is almost devoid of convenience stores, which suggests to me that the people who live around there are healthier than the Drive folks, since convenience stores do most of their business in cigarettes.

West Broadway also has a number of bookstores, both new and used. The first one I investigated was in the same family as the one near my place, only with a much smaller Rebus shelf. Not surprisingly, there were no copies of Let It Bleed. Walking out, full of confidence that I was embroiled in a great quest, I espied a used bookstore on the other side of the street. They had a small crime/mystery section against the back wall and it didn't take me long to find their Rebus selection. The first book I noticed was Knots & Crosses, which had a tag on the spine that read "1st Rebus novel". I was in the right place. And then I saw it. My epic journey of less than two days was at an end at lest and I could set my weary mind at ease. There was Let It Bleed.

I'm glad I found it, glad I got it, but also sad that my investigation barely had the chance to develop into a full bore obsession. Sigh. And besides, I have to finish When You Are Engulfed In Flames first, so that Nicole can take it back to the Burnaby library.

Just when you thought I wasn't going to mention Batman (still haven't seen TDK), the excellent comics blog The Beat has word about Ian Rankin's new career as a comics writer!

mp3: "Rebus 1" by Joe Morris, Ken Vandermark and Luther Gray

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